Blood And Money

***

Reviewed by: Jane Fae

Blood And Money
"The scenery, for those that enjoy snow-covered waste, is utterly gorgeous at times."

I so ought not to be reviewing films such as Blood And Money. No: not just because I am naturally allergic to its gloomy set-em-all-up/ knock-em-all-down plotline. Nor for the tragic dying-hero story arc.

Rather, it is the snow. Or more precisely, the snow-covered wastes of Northern Maine, wherein the action goes down. Because I don’t like snow thrillers.

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Not your girls with odd-shaped tattoos trapped in spiders webs. Not the recent white-out efforts of Liam Neeson (Cold Pursuit) and Jean Reno (Cold Blood). Not even George Lazenby dicing with ski death as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service or Vin Diesel doing very similar in xXx.

In part, I think I feel cheated: like, I paid to watch a colour feature and here you’re serving me black-and-white. In part, the backdrop just gives me shivers. And there is nothing glam or sexy in all of your principal characters stumbling around the set for an hour and a half wearing what look like identical boiler jackets. It is also my sense is that, as here, snow films tend on the whole to be more pessimistic, generally more negative of outcome than their sunnier clime counterparts.

Here, the plot is simple enough. Ageing (and gloomy) deer hunter Jim Reed (Tom Berenger) is out in the snowy woods of Maine’s Allagash region. There is much traipsing around forest, accompanied by heavy breathing, designed to communicate that he is unwell and unlikely to be long for this world anyway. And one brief vignette: a glimpse of a press cutting which, dear viewer, you must catch since it reveals a dark secret from his past.

He is lonely. He is dying. And about his only friend in the world is Debbie (Kristen Hager), waitress and server down at the local diner.

Throw in a little back story: business about how her marriage is in trouble and her husband is not a great guy. Or is he?

And then, out of the blue, the MacGuffin, the plot device that will whisk us away from all this sadness: a posse of local thugs – four guys and a girlfriend - have robbed a casino of somewhere in excess of US$1 million. And they, too, head out to the Allagash, there to lie low and wait until the heat goes down.

Out there.

In the icy wastes. I know…

What could possibly go wrong? Unless, perhaps, it is Jim going all Mr Magoo on us and shooting the young doe-eyed moll (geddit?) under the mistaken impression she is a deer. Since the police are at that moment broadcasting on all channels, warning locals to stay away from this dangerous gang, the obvious thing to do, not to mention the natural good citizen thing, is to pick up the phone and come clean.

“Sorry officer: I appear to have shot a young woman dead.” Accident? Maybe. Who cares! Because she was a very bad woman. And this is America. I’m sure there’s not a court in the land would do any other than award Jim a public service medal.

But then where would this film be? Out of steam after the first half hour, that’s where! So for reasons best known to himself, Jim picks up not the phone but the bag of cash and scurries off. Then, rather than cutting and running while he still has a chance, stays put – initially of his own volition – to play cat and mouse, or maybe advanced level paintball with the bad guys.

All very predictable. After all, when has a lone wolf good guy – even one puffing and panting like he’s about to have a heart attack any minute – not succeeded in taking down a bunch of fitter, better-armed bad guys no more than half his age?

By now, I guess, you may be detecting a certain lack of empathy on my part towards this film. I get – I think – the idea that not every hero needs to be Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis: pumped up to the nines and still kicking ass. But in addition to inducing the occasional brrrr! as Berenger almost freezes to death - again! - nothing and no-one here connected for me. No-one, except perhaps the server, filling in as stock Girl Next Door, with a side order of Love Martyrdom, who might as well be wearing a badge saying 'Save this Woman'.

Why would you do that Tom? Why did you…shoot the woman? Take the cash? (Make this film?) And why would anyone care?

On the plus side, the scenery, for those that enjoy snow-covered waste, is utterly gorgeous at times. I imagine the director framing a shot, here and there, for its later potential as a Christmas jigsaw. Though probably not the footage with the dead woman in it.

Otherwise, though, I was not impressed.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2020
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Blood And Money packshot
A retired veteran hunting in northern Maine stumbles across a dead woman and a large sum of money.

Director: John Barr

Writer: John Barr, Michael McGrale

Starring: Tom Berenger, Kristen Hager, Paul Ben-Victor, Mark Sivertsen, Erica McDermott

Year: 2020

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: US

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